One of the fascinating things about populists is that, on one hand, they’re pro-democratic, says UBC political scientist Antje Ellermann.
What if populists aren’t as crazy as their opponents often say?
Populism is today’s hot topic. It’s the term many use to try to explain — and deride — right-wingers like U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as nativist parties in Europe. Others remind us that populism applies as well to the socialist left, like U.S. presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
The trouble is that too many commentators use the term populist so loosely that, instead of providing insight, they mostly ignite strong emotion, usually laced with mockery. But we can get through the confusion.
We can come to see that various kinds of populists often, not always, make worthwhile points. And some of what they do can even be good for democracy.